Now that we've got Ivy Bridge CPUs to test with, and they are widely available on the market, it is time to take a closer look at supporting board products, starting off with Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H WiFi. Gigabyte has been a part of the tech industry for as long as I can remember, but over the past couple of years their design focus has changed considerably, culminating in the products now carrying the "Ultra Durable 4" moniker, fresh on the shelves in the past several weeks. The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi is a high-end enthusiast product that carries with it every feature that Intel's Z77 Express has to offer, combined with a few Gigabyte-designed innovations that are sure to meet the needs of even the most discerning consumer.
||3rd Generation Intel Core i5/i7 processor family for the LGA 1155 Socket
||CPU Power: 12+2+1 Phase
PCH Power: 1 Phase
Memory Power: 2 Phase
||Intel Z77 Express
||Dependant on Installed CPU
||4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1066 to DDR3 1600 |
||Dual AMI EFI BIOS with 2x 64 Mb Flash ROM
||3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (Electrical connectivity dependant on installed CPU)
1 x PCI slot
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slots
||2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77)
4 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77)
1 x mSATA 3.0 Gb/s (Intel Z77, disables SATA Port 5 when in use)
3 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (Marvell 9172)
1 x eSATA 6.0 Gb/s (Marvell 9172)
||1x Intel GbE LAN (LAN2)
1x Atheros GbE LAN (LAN1)
||6 x USB 2.0 ports (2 at back panel, 4 at front panel)
10 x USB 3.0 ports (4 at back panel, 6 at front panel)
1 x eSATA port
2 x RJ45 LAN connectors
1 x Audio port with 5 audio jacks
1 x SPDIF Output(Optical)
1 x HDMI Port
1 x D-Sub Port
1 x DVI-D Port
1 x DisplayPort
1 x IEEE1394 port
||Realtek ALC898 HD CODEC
||ATX Form Factor (305 mm x 244 mm)
- 3D Power
- 3D BIOS
- Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card
- 333 Onboard Acceleration
- 3x USB Power Boost
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0
- ON/OFF Charge
- Ultra Durable 4
- Glass Fabric Humidity Protection
- Dolby Home Theatre
- SB X-Fi MB2
Intel Z77 Express Chipset
Intel launched their latest desktop platform in the first half of April 2012, just a little while ago, beginning with board products. The Intel Z77 Express platform is an incremental upgrade from previous platforms, adding additional features and providing a wider level of functionality, while adding full support for the 3rd Generation Core i5/i7 family of CPUs, commonly called Ivy Bridge in enthusiast circles.
The Ivy Bridge CPUs are made using a new 28nm process technology that lowers power consumption as well as offering a bit more performance-per-clock than previous Intel 2nd Generation Core i5/i7 products. Also changed is the onboard GPU that's part of the Ivy Bridge silicon, which now takes up more of that slice of silicon that sits under the integrated heatspreader.
The integrated PCIe bus on the CPU is also upgraded, and can be split differently than with Sandy Bridge CPUs, with Ivy Bridge natively supporting three devices over a single bus with 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity, compared to the two devices and PCIe 2.0 link that is found inside Sandy Bridge products. Taking advantage of that added PCIe functionality requires a motherboard design change from previous Sandybridge-supporting motherboards, yet backwards and forwards component compatibility for both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge platform products including CPUs and chipsets is possible with updated firmware for older Socket 1155 board products. Using a new IvyBridge CPU with an older P67 Express or Z68 Express motherboard may limit PCIe functionality, and naturally, with SandyBridge only supporting two devices, the tertiary slot provided on some Z77 Express boards will not work on some products when a SandyBridge CPU is installed.
The Gigabyte GA-Z77-UD5H-WB not only offers all the functionality needed to make the most of your new IvyBridge CPU, but also adds an mSATA port as well as WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. These features aren't required for Z77 Express products, yet they definitely help fill out the capabilities of the Intel Z77 Express chipset and help set the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi apart from some of the other recently released board products.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi comes in a bright white box, like many other recent products from Gigabyte, a clean and simple look that seems to very much be a large part of Gigabyte's overall design mantra that is carried across all products they've got on the market today. All the usual technology logos and such are found, as is the product name, although the name itself is a bit small this time. The rear of the box also features a simplified layout, with a picture of the board itself in the middle, and explanations of the included tech surrounding it.
Inside the outer box we find another white box, this time made of bleached cardboard. Opening the flap, we are greeted by yet more cardboard, and we are happy to see such a high-end product nice and secure inside its box.
Lifting the inner flap reveals the board itself, covered with the usual anti-static bag. Removing the board pulls its entire box out, and below we find all of the board's literature and accessories, separated from each other by cardboard partitions.
There's a huge amount of goodies inside the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi's box, including manuals, cabling, and even a couple of discs containing software, due to the included add-in card. We were surprised to find a complete PCIe x1 WiFi/Bluetooth 4.0 expansion card with matching antennas in the box, which can be used with other products as well! A full listing of the included goodies is below:
- 1x I/O Shield
- 1x User Manual
- 1x Quick Install guide
- 1x SLI Bridge
- 1x Driver CD
- 1x WiFi Driver Disc
- 6x SATA 3 Gb/s cables with locking pins
- 2x Wi-Fi Antenna
- 1x USB 3.0 front panel header
- 1x Gigabyte Case Badge
- 1x WiFi card with USB cable
The Board - Layout
Dressed all in black except for a slash of blue provided by the board's cooling, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H has a fantastic stealthy look to it, thanks to the matte black PCB. Like all Intel Z77 Express products, the surface is quite busy, and populated with a ton of surface-mounted parts, but it all just kind of blends into the background thanks its aesthetic design. The rear of the board is quite clean considering, with the VRM components on the rear of the board a fair distance from the socket blackplate.
Taking a look at the socket area, we find the usual clutter around all Intel Z77 Express sockets, capacitors, VRM coolers and the DIMM slots all surrounding the socket fairly closely. If you plan on using this board for extreme clocking, insulation may be a bit tricky, especially considering how close some of these parts are to the socket. Looking at the obverse side, we find the socket area fairly empty, with many open placings inside the socket for surface-mounted ICs, while just a short distance away from the socket are many VRM components, arranged in an "L"-shape. Once again I have to applaud Gigabyte for using screws to attach the board cooling, as cheap plastic clips are something I personally despise.
The bottom half of the motherboard is filled with seven expansion slots; three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (electrically a x16 or x8 slot, a x8 or x4 slot, and a x4 slot, but more on that later), three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI slot, for those that need one for adding drive controllers or audio cards. The second image above shows a sticker placed just above the lower PCIe slot that indicates that to use it, you need to have an Ivy Bridge CPU installed. The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi features four DIMM slots for up to a maximum of 32 GB of memory (4x 8 GB), and has a two-phase power delivery system for the bank of DIMMs.
For internal wiring headers, I found a couple of surprises; starting from the left there's front panel audio and SPDIF headers, a TPM header, and a couple of USB 2.0 headers, one of which (the red one) is intended to be used for the ON/OFF USB Charge ports. Then there's a fan header followed by the front panel pin block, and after that is a curious little switch, a SATA 6 Gb/s port (driven by a Marvell controller, and paired with the eSATA port on the rear I/O), and then not one, but two USB 3.0 headers! There is also a third USB 3.0 header located just behind the 24-pin power plug as well, bringing the total number of internal USB 3.0 ports to six!!!
On the back plate we find, starting from the left, VGA and DVI ports in one tower, followed by Digital Audio out, HDMI, and DisplayPort plugs, all in the second tower. In the middle there are two USB 2.0 ports, and below them is a FireWire and eSATA port. The next two towers are identical, carrying dual USB 3.0 ports, with a LAN header up on top, the one on the right driven by an Intel controller, and the other by an Atheros controller. Lastly, we find the analogue audio ports, six in total.
There are a total of ten internal SATA ports on the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H, five of which are SATA 6 Gb/s capable (two grey and two white shown in the second image above, and the 5th was shown already on the board's bottom edge). The black SATA 3 Gb/s ports and white SATA 6 Gb/s ports are driven off of the Intel Z77 Express chipset, while the two grey SATA 6 Gb/s ports are managed by a Marvell controller mounted to the board's surface just behind the ports themselves. The tenth port is the mSATA port, located just above the uppermost PCIe slot, however, its connection to the Intel Z77 Express PCH is shared with the SATA 5 port and as such, when it's filled with an mSATA drive, the SATA 5 port will be disabled.
The Board - A Closer Look
Gigabyte has really solidified all the overclocking features they offer, including bunching all the main controls into a single area, as seen in the first picture above. There is a power button, CMOS Clear, and RESET all close together, as well as a bunch of measuring points for various critical system voltages, right next to a dual-digit POST code display. Gigabyte has also revamped the Dual BIOS tech they've used since time began, with two BIOS chips soldered to the board's surface. What makes it unique, and ultimately the perfect solution, is the ability for users to choose which BIOS they are booting from, thanks to the switch I found earlier at the board's bottom edge. If you look closely at the second image above, you'll see that there is an LED right next to each BIOS chip, making it really easy to figure out which one is in use. Should you corrupt your BIOS, or change a setting that makes the system unbootable, you can merely flip the switch, and boot from the secondary BIOS.
As we saw with Gigabyte's X79 boards, the VRM design used by Gigabyte has changed to International Recitfier parts, with the IR3567 seen in the first image above in charge of the CPU's power supply. The 12+2+1 design, seen in the second image above, is nearly 100% customizible, with options in BIOS to set refresh rates, current limits, and a few other choices, like setting loadline calibration to a custom scheme.
This design also allows for similar controls for other areas, including the PCH and DIMM sections, although with the F7 BIOS is used for testing, I could not actually find any voltage options for the Z77 Express chipset itself! The DIMM VRM on the other hand, has almost too much in the way of options, and is powered by a dual-phase design that is more than ample for 24/7 overclocking, and is almost geared to the extreme user cooling with LN2.
System monitoring functionality is provided by an ITE IT8728F, a chip we've seen before a few times now, responsible for sensor data monitoring and fan control. The PCIe-to-PCI bridge is also supplied by ITE, seen in the second image above.
The PCIe subsystem is a bit more complex than I've seen in the past, due to the additional capabilities offered by IvyBridge-based CPUs. The six bridge chips seen in the first image above allow the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H to split the single PCIe 3.0 x16 link from IvyBridge CPUs into three links; the lower two slots each with a PCIe x4 link, and the uppermost retains a PCIe x8 link. The link from the CPU can also be set to two devices, running the uppermost two slots each at a PCIe x8 link, and this mode is available when running both SandyBridge and IvyBridge CPUs, although it will only run PCIe revision 3.0 when IvyBridge is installed.
With support for three PCIe slots, it becomes possible for users to run triple VGAs, and when doing so, power consumption via the PCIe slot can hit 225 W or so. To ensure that stable power is provided in such configurations, Gigabyte has added a SATA-based power connector to the right board edge, to help take the load of that large power draw off of the 24-pin power connector.
To wrap it all up, there is also an ICS 9BD403DGLF PCIe clock buffer, to help ensure stable clocks across all PCIe slots.
The included Realtek ALC898 HD codec supports 7.1 audio, and meets Microsoft's WLP3.x audio requirements. Supporting 44.1k/48k/96k/192 kHz sampling at 16-, 20- and 24-bit, the Realtek ALC898 includes full support for HD audio formats featuring Content Protection, if supporting software is used. It is also DirectSound 3D compatible, so no area of usage or functionality is overlooked, including support for Dolby Home Theatre. Gigabyte has sourced the LAN controllers for the GA-Z77X-UD5H from Intel and Atheros, Fitting the GA-Z77-UD5H with the Intel 82579V helps keep power consumption down, as it meets the 802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet appliance standard.
For USB 3.0 support, we find dual VLi VL810-Q8 PCIe controllers, one for both of the internal headers found on the bottom board edge that provides USB 3.0 to casing front panels, and one for the ports on the rear I/O. The third USB 3.0 front panel connector, found behind the 24-pin power connector, is based off of the Intel Z77 Express controller.
There are two Marvell drive controllers onboard, one for the grey SATA boards on the board's right edge, while the second is for eSATA control, as well as the SATA port found on the board's bottom edge.
The VIA VT6308P in the first image above provides the GA-Z77-UD5H's IEEE 1394 FireWire support, powering both the port on the rear I/O as well as the internal header found on the board's bottom edge. The second image shows the dual Asmedia TMDS switches, that allows the board to push two monitors as once.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi includes a separate Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card that uses both the PCIe bus, as well as USB 2.0, although the USB interface is used for the Bluetooth portion only. The two separate devices occupy the same card, but feature separate antennas and interfaces. Because only one USB 2.0 port is used, the card has a USB 2.0 port built on it, but we're not exactly sure why, as it is not the sort of port that can be wired to the case exterior, but rather a normal USB 2.0 port you might plug your keyboard or mouse into. It's nice to have access to the unused port, but it could have been provided in a slightly better way, like perhaps sticking out the same end as the antenna receptacles.
The coolers on the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H are pretty large, with the PCH cooler extending nearly five full slots from top to bottom. It's actually quite thin, with many curved fins protruding from the surface.
The VRM heatsinks are two big beefy hunks of metal which are connected together via a heatpipe, that also connects to the PCH cooler. At the right edge of the uppermost cooler is a pin header, that seems to be for an LED perhaps. It's strange to see the white connector there, as it easily catches the eye with everything else on the board pretty much black or blue.
With the cooler removed from the board, I checked to see how well it mated with the board's surface, which with some boards in the past has been a big issue. Fortunately Gigabyte's cooler design for the Z77X-UD5H makes perfect contact with all critical VRM components, and the heatpipe that connects all of the elements runs directly over all heat-generating parts, from the Intel Z77 Express PCH, up and around the PCIe slots and then all the way across the dual rows of MOSFETs.
In the above picture you can clearly see the new Intel Z77 Express chipset, found under the large southbridge cooler. The chip itself is fairly small, so it's quite curious that I noticed temperatures over 65°C during testing. I expected a bit less considering the size of the board's cooling device, and the relatively low power draw of the entire platform.
||80 MHz ... 133.33 MHz
||x8.00 (800 MHz), x10.67 (1067 MHz), x13.33 (1333 MHz),
x14 (1400 MHz), x16 (1600 MHz ), x18 (1800 MHz),
x18.66 (1866 MHz) x20 (2000 MHz ), x21.33 (2133 MHz),
x22 (2200 MHz), x24 (2400 MHz), x26 (2600 MHz)
||0.800 V... 1.900 V
||1.100 V... 2.100 V
||0.715 V... 1.400 V
||0.800 V... 1.700 V
||1.200 V... 2.200 V
Gigabyte offers a new "3D BIOS" with its AMI UEFI boards, that allows easy navigation of settings, by clicking the board's image of where there parts are. It's a good tool for learning your way around the motherboard, and does offer a handy monitoring panel when in the menus, but I found the offered options a bit limited in some areas, where others were very nearly an exact copy of what's offered in the more traditional layout.
That traditional layout is what first appeared when I booted the board, and everything that followed was quite like what's offered on the Gigabyte X79-UD5 that I reviewed many many weeks ago. I had to hit "ESC" on my keyboard to get the 3D interface to pop up.
All of the options are found in now-familiar places, and organized in such a way that every option you need is easy to find, with the overclocking options first and foremost.
Power options are quite varied, with user-adjustable settings for most of the VRM's functions. I have yet to see another board that offers as many options; ASUS does come close, but they miss a few things that Gigabyte does not, although those options have to actually prove critical to 24/7 operation.
There's really not much that can be said that isn't explained by these screenshots, however it is worth noting is that the fan control is split into two sections; one for the CPU, and another for all other fans. Personally, I prefer the option of individual control for each fan by itself. You can set individual fan fail warnings, but "SmartFan" controls are not as diverse.
I really have to commend Gigabyte for tightening up the BIOS presentation here, with a layout that few others manage to replicate. There are hundreds of options, but you wouldn't realize it thanks to the fantastic design.
Across the top you find the main headings, and under each is all the options for each section; all overclocking stuff together, all component options together; I really couldn't find anything wrong here at all.
Well, perhaps there is one thing: the first image above shows the peripheral drive controller options. Very simple and easy to understand, except...which is which? The options to bypass the default boot device, and boot from other drives is here as well and there is also a tool provided to flash the BIOS with, so literally every angle is covered, including the ability to capture screenshots of the BIOS pages, which I used to capture these images.
I must admit, I really like Gigabyte's new BIOS design, which has barely been around for 6 months. When the Intel X79 Express boards launched, Gigabyte debuted their AMI UEFI implementations and with Z77 Express, they've really tighten things up to the point that there is very little that could be improved other than a few minor details. One of the most important parts of BIOS design is ensuring that a wide variety of memory modules work properly, and at the point when i did my testing, I didn't run into any issues at all with any of the kits I have on hand, which is really saying something considering the boards have been out for only a few weeks.
Gigabyte has included a rather standard software package with the Z77X-UD5H WiFi, with a bunch of utilities that are standard to most of their products. EasyTune 6 and @BIOS are board-level tools for sensor monitoring, clock customization and BIOS updating that are included with most Gigabyte boards, and have been for many years. The overall functionality has not changed much at all here.
New with the International Rectifier VRM is a utility called AutoGreen that allows users to set power profiles to save on power usage, and the Intel Control Center is new-for-Z77 Express software provided by Intel to manage Intel's own tools, such as the iRST panel.
The audio tools were a bit of a surprise, as I was not expecting the Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB2 software as it's not mentioned on the box at all, although the THX functionality was indicated by a logo on the box. Both are fairly basic controls, but since there's something to be said about keeping it simple, I rather appreciate the lack of options.
||Intel 3rd Generation Core i7 3770K
3.5 GHz, 8 MB Cache
||8 GB DDR3 (2x 4 GB) G.Skill F3-2400C10D-8GTX
||Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi
Intel Z77 Express, BIOS ver F7
||XFX Radeon HD 6950 2 GB
||Corsair ForceGT 60 GB SATA 6 Gb/s SSD(OS)
Crucial M4 SATA 6 Gb/s SSD
Velocity SuperSpeed USB3.0 External Dock w/ Corsair F60
||Silverstone Strider GOLD 750W
||Windows 7 64-bit SP1, ATI Catalyst 12.3
Setting up the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi went by without any issues, no different than any other motherboard, with the JEDEC 1333 MHz 9-9-9-24 1.5V profile of my G.Skill DIMMs booting right up. The OS install went perfectly, and no issues were noticed at any point during the testing period, even when overclocking. I updated to the most recent BIOS, "F7", using the utility inside the BIOS, and noticed no issues with that either.
PWM Power Consumption
Since one of our first tasks was to truly verify system stability, while doing so we measure CPU power consumption. We isolate the power coming through the 8-pin ATX connector using an in-line meter that provides voltage and current readings, as well as total wattage passed through it. While this may not prove to isolate the CPU power draw in all instances, it does serve as a good indicator of board efficiency and effective VRM design.
There's not much I can say about the power consumption at this point. I did notice that the board itself pulled about 74 W on its own with the XFX HD 6950 installed, and pretty much every board I've tested has run within 3-5 W of that, although I normally see most sitting just above 75 W. I noticed that idlle power consumption was a few Watts higher than expected, which made me investigate things a bit further. It seems that that PWR_FAN fan header is powered via the EPS-pin, something that I personally disapprove of. However, since I saw that there was just a 44 W increase from idle to load pulled via the 8-pin, I can understand why this design choice was made, but I still don't approve of having that fan header powered from the CPU's 8-pin connector.
CPU Performance Results
We spent a about a week with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi before beginning our performance testing, running various configurations and CPUs, and checking hardware compatibility. We verified our power consumption numbers using various different power supplies, and played a few hours of games with some members of the TPU community to get an overall feel for the board and to verify stability. Once completed, we tore down the system, mounted our Noctua cooler and put the board through the paces.
SuperPI serves as our memory-focused benchmark, being highly single-threaded. The Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi ended up on the top of the pile of all Intel products we have tested, a good showing, for sure.
wPrime is much more CPU-focused, but memory plays its role as well. In this test, the numbers were much closer, but the Z77-UD5H WiFi was just a bit faster than the ASUS Maximus IV Gene, which ran a Sandybridge CPU @ 3.8 GHz as default. I expect all Ivybridge results to match Sandybridge CPUs with 300 MHz more than their IvyBridge counterpart.
Part of our motherboard benchmarking suite is the built-in benchmark that is part of the WinRAR software suite. In this test, the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi put up good numbers, actually far higher than expected as it matches some SB-E numbers.
We employed AIDA64's memory bench to highlight memory bandwidth. We isolate the write performance metric as it serves as a good indicator of overall memory performance. Here the numbers were quite low, however, as this is the first Z77 Express board we are testing, further testing is required before we can consider this an issue.
Handbrake is used for encoding testing, and provided results much similar to the previous benchmarks, with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi sitting nearly ten FPS ahead of our previously best SKT 1155 result.
In Cinebench, the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi was a bit slower than some of the other tested SKT 1155 products on the GPU side, but the CPU portion again showed the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi as the top SKT 1155 performer, bar none.
3D Performance Results
Once we completed our CPU test suite, we took some time to play some games with the TPU community to get an overall feel for gaming on the Z77-UD5H WiFi. After a couple of days we settled in to complete our 3D benchmarking, feeling confident that the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi was going to put on a good show. Let's take a look at what numbers the board provided.
Once we ran 3DMark11, it became clear that a trend really was emerging, one that has the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi as the fastest SKT1155 tested product to date. The numbers again have the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi a fair bit above the other SKT 1155 products, and just a few points behind X79 Express-based products.
Our first real-world 3D performance test comes in the form of Civilization 5, using the included benchmark. We let the game recommend us settings, and then disabled V-SYNC and AA to eliminate bottlenecks introduced by the GPU itself. Here the numbers were exactly as expected, with very little variation compared to previous results. A problem in this particular benchmark points to other issues, but the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi passed with flying colors.
Our second real-world 3D performance test comes from CodeMasters, in the form of the "F1 2010" included benchmark. We let the game recommend us settings, which included 8xAA with our newly added HD 6950 2 GB from Sapphire. Here, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi does well, but it was beat by other SKT1155 products that had a clock advantage.
With the CPU and 3D performance compares out of the way, we took a closer look at the other performance features offered by the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi.
Drive and Audio Performance Results
Our drive and audio testing differs a bit from the rest of our testing, for several reasons. First of all, when it comes to drive performance comparison, nearly every platform on the market is very close to one another, as most do provide external drive controllers which means the numbers offered are very much platform agnostic. And finally, with audio, we do not list any numbers except for those reported by the product we are testing in order to provide the most information possible, as each audio CODEC will behave quite differently, and each board does not employ the same CODEC. As such, there is no standard we can use other than the numbers themselves. You can always check our other motherboard reviews in order to make direct comparisons to audio performance.
We've tested each drive interface separately in order to provide the most complete numbers possible. Employing HDTune Pro for all of the testing, we tested each drive outside of the OS environment, using a separate OS on a separate drive. However, we do use drives with a fair amount of data on them (60% full) to simulate performance in real-world situations.
HDTune Pro (SATA2)
In HDTune Pro SATA 3 GB/s performance, we found the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi to return results exactly as expected, right near the top, although slightly lower than other products. Overall, it's just 0.5 MB/s slower than the best result. A small amount, so nothing to really be concerned about.
HDTune Pro (SATA 6Gb/s)
SATA 6 Gb/s showed the opposite of SATA 3 Gb/s, with the Z77-UD5H WiFi taking the top result.
HDTune Pro (USB3.0)
USB 3.0 drive performance did not fail to put the Z77-UD5H WiFi on top either, something I wasn't expecting at all.
RightMark Audio Analyzer
The RMAA results given by the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi are rated by RMAA as "GOOD", and that's really about all we can say. It is not particularly loud, but did produce considerable volume, but nothing really stood out for us. We've tested other Realtek ALC898 solutions and received better results, which proved shocking considering the nice Creative software package that looks pretty. It would be nice if the quality matched. If we look at the numbers provided by RMAA directly, the bass is a bit heavy, while the treble is a bit thin, while volume was fairly decent. There was a bit of distortion noticed, seemingly produced via Stereo Crosstalk, which was fairly high. This leads to a very average performance, nothing overly bad, but nothing that knocked our socks off, either. This is not the first time we've run into an ALC898 performing like this, so it's really not even worth thinking about.
When it comes to overclocking results, we have very limited score results at this point, but as I work through the pile of boards I have here, a more detailed look at how each performs will be possible. I will also be reporting the voltage required on each board to hit our 4.6 GHz overclock with full stability, which does include passing a 12-hour test session with Prime95. I personally feel that all a user should need to adjust is CPU voltage, and perhaps IMC voltage based on what DIMMs are used, in order to easily reach a 24/7 stable overclock. I am also using a G.SKill 2400 MHz 8 GB kit for all overclock testing, and do expect that each board should have no issues with this kit, but time will tell, of course. If I run into any issues, you can be sure that I'll be reporting on them.
Overclocking with the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi with the new "F7" BIOS was very easy. It was just a matter of enabling XMP and adjusting CPU voltage as needed. There was a fair amount of voltage droop on the CPU, which is natural for how Intel CPUs run, however, to get the 1.18 V our CPU needs to run 4.6 GHz, required that we set 1.225 V in BIOS. Enabling the 2400 MHz XMP profile for my G.SKill TridentX memory went without a hitch as well, but I did notice that both IMC and vDIMM voltages were higher than they needed to be, so I manually adjusted them to the proper levels.
Overclocked Performance Summary
Cinebench provided a substantial performance increase when over clocked, something that resounds true through the entire series of Intel-based products.
Likewise, SuperPi 32m results proved the same as Cinebench, with substantial performance increases that are also noticed on previous Intel platforms.
WPrime 1024M numbers further the results, showing that there is true power available when overclocking the Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi, dropping the final result by a full 39 seconds when overclocked, a larger increase than we have seen on some X79 Express-based products!.
For a bit of 3D action we fired up CodeMaster's F1 2010 to find that very minimal gains were available when overclocking, most likely due to GPU limitations. Hopefully I'll be able to update my test VGAs with current cards soon.
With Codemaster's F1 2010 starting to show it's age, and proving less reliable in showing performance increases, we've added the Shogun 2 DirectX 9 CPU benchmark to our testing suite. In the months to come, it will get added to the main testing section, but for now, it does show a very large increase in performance when run on the overclocked Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi, being highly sensitive to single-threaded CPU performance. The final result increased by almost 33%, much higher than I had expected.
Value & Conclusion
- The Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi is available now, with an MRSP of $229.99.
- Packed with added features and options not seen on some other products in the same price range.
- Clean and simple color-themed layout.
- Fully functional AMI UEFI BIOS, including mouse support and support for 3 TB+ drives.
- VRM cooling more than needed, great for long term 24/7 clocking.
- Overclocks really well, with excellent memory support.
- Includes add-on Bluetooth/WiFi card that can be used in other systems.
- Bundled software the same package Gigabyte has offered for years, with little-to-no changes.
- SATA 3 Gb/s performance with tested hardware a bit low.
- PWR_FAN connected to CPU 8-pin EPS connector.
||The Gigabyte Z77-UD5H WiFi, in my opinion, is damn near perfect. There's not a feature missing that I'd like to see, performance is great, and power consumption is low too. In its price segment, it adds Bluetooth and WiFi by the inclusion of the add-in card, and looking at online pricing, I do not see the same offered by similarily priced products. Nevermind that if you don't need the add-in card, you can purchase the board without, for a lower cost, too. |
I had a really hard time coming up with cons for this board. There's the issue with the PWR_FAN header, which is more personal than something end users should worry about, and other than that, there's the software package that at this time feels dated, and a few BIOS options that were kind of vague, but other than that, I could not find anything wrong at all, and even those items are barely worth mentioning, however, they are areas that Gigabyte can improve upon. Of course, the Z77X-UD5H WiFi isn't Gigabyte's top offering either, so to expect every little last detail to be covered may be asking for a bit too much (Nevermind the issues I found were really really minor).
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